Chicago Blues: A Collection of Crime Stories About the Real Windy City

This was a great collection of crime stories with the one common ingredient being the use of the theme “blue”. Sometimes it refers directly to the musical connection that Chicago has with the blues and blues men and women who have and still do populate Chicago.

Other times, the blue refers to the Chicago police and the thin blue line, sometimes very thin indeed, that separates the good guys and the bad guys. In other stories, the great rattling El train that races all around the city is the focus – particularly, the Blue Line.

The diversity in the stories also extends to the geography of Chicago as a city. The stories range from Rogers Park in the North, all the way down Cottage Grove in the South and over to Wicker Park and beyond in the West. It includes the suburbs: Lake Forest, Hinsdale and Rosemont all make an appearance. This makes it one of the books that represents the city so well for me.

The characters are Mexican, Polish, Irish, German, African American, Jewish and Indian. The melting pot is shown in all its color and cultural composition. This too is unusual for most current stories about Chicago.

I had a few favorites in this anthology. “O Death Where Is Thy Sting?” is a great story about a long lost blues recording. “Your Sweet Man” is a very complicated family love story. “Guarding Lacey” is an important story about girls and human trafficking. “The Sin Eater” is a great Irish Catholic tale set in the western part of the city, Back of the Yards – a hard scrabble neighborhood. My other favorite is set under the El in my old neighborhood of Uptown, on Lawrence avenue in a bar at the Crossroads.

I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book. But rather than that, I really recommend you grab it. One rider, this has a weird look on the e-reader. The text download’s in large, unevenly spaced paragraphs. I treated it like jazz and accepted it for what it is, but I would love to see the editors/publishers fix this for future readers.

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